Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find? (2024)

Wonder of the Day #1649

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Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find? (1)

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Have You Ever Wondered...

  • Why are four-leaf clovers so hard to find?
  • What do the four leaves of a four-leaf clover stand for?
  • Why are four-leaf clovers considered lucky?


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  • Plants,
  • Science,
  • Fortune,
  • Good,
  • Luck,
  • Four-Leaf Clover,
  • Odds,
  • Symbol,
  • Lucky,
  • Trifolium Repens,
  • White Clover,
  • Latin,
  • Three,
  • Leaf,
  • Leaves,
  • Mutation,
  • Recessive,
  • Gene,
  • Dna,
  • Deoxyribonucleic Acid,
  • Plant,
  • Rare,
  • Japan,
  • Christian,
  • Legend,
  • Eve,
  • Garden Of Eden,
  • Paradise,
  • Saint Patrick,
  • Shamrock,
  • Holy Trinity,
  • Father,
  • Son,
  • Holy Spirit,
  • God,
  • Tradition,
  • Culture,
  • Faith,
  • Hope,
  • Love,
  • Clover

Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Tsvetelina from Brooklyn . Tsvetelina Wonders, “Why are four leaf clovers harder to find than three leaf ones?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Tsvetelina!

Your palms are sweaty. Your foot is tap, tap, tapping on the floor. You bite your nails and look nervously at the clock. Only a minute until the teacher passes out the test and you're wishing you had studied a lot more last night. Just before you start the test, your best friend wishes you good luck.

Yes! Luck! That's it. That's what you need. You search your pockets, but you left your lucky rabbit's foot at home. If only you could lay hands on a horseshoe or, even better, a four-leaf clover!

But there's no time to rush outside to search for a four-leaf clover. And what would be the point anyway? What are the odds of finding a four-leaf clover?

Experts would tell you that the odds of finding a four-leaf clover are about 1 in 10,000. Yikes! Those aren't very good odds. Given the rarity of four-leaf clovers, it's no WONDER they're a symbol of good luck. You have to be really lucky to find one!

Although there are various types of clover, the type we're talking about when discussing four-leaf clovers is known as Trifolium repens, or white clover. Trifolium is a Latin word that means "three leaf." That explains why 99.99% of clovers you find only have three leaves.

Clovers with four (or more) leaves are the result of mutations or recessive genes in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of clover plants. In the last few years, some scientists have isolated what they believe are the genes responsible for four-leaf clovers.

As rare as four-leaf clovers are, clovers with five or six leaves are even rarer. Currently, the world record for most leaves on a single clover stem is 56. That incredible specimen was found in Japan in 2009.

The association of four-leaf clovers with good luck has ancient roots. In fact, an ancient Christian legend holds that Eve took a four-leaf clover with her when she left the Garden of Eden so she could remember what Paradise was like.

More recent Irish traditions hold that Saint Patrick used the three-leaf clover, also called a shamrock, to teach about the Holy Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A fourth leaf was thought to symbolize God's grace.

Today, many cultures believe the leaves of the three-leaf clover represent faith, hope, and love. And if you find a four-leaf clover, what does that fourth leaf symbolize? You guessed it: luck!

Wonder What's Next?

We don’t mean to brag, but tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day totally rules!

Try It Out

Feeling lucky? Grab a few friends or family members and explore the following activities together:

  • In need of some luck? Maybe all you need to do is to find a four-leaf clover. Easier said than done, though, right? Maybe or maybe not! Read through How To Find a Four Leaf Clover online for some tips that might prove helpful.
  • If you've tried and really can't seem to find that elusive four-leaf clover, then maybe you need some help from science. Science? Yes, science! Check out Scientific American's How Science Can Help You Find a 4-Leaf Clover video to learn more. Good luck!
  • If you still can't find a four-leaf clover, what else could you turn to for good luck? Think about all the things that are associated with good luck. Legends and superstitions vary by culture, but there are many different things considered lucky. Try to make a list of at least five things thought to be lucky. Share your list with a friend or family member. Can they think of any others?

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Wonder Contributors

We’d like to thank:

Grey, Jenny, Riley, Boeckx from NC and Nerissa
for contributing questions about today’s Wonder topic!

Keep WONDERing with us!

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Wonder Words

  • palm
  • tap
  • test
  • odds
  • gene
  • rare
  • fortune
  • rarity
  • symbol
  • specimen
  • legend
  • tradition
  • nervously
  • horseshoe
  • various
  • mutation
  • recessive
  • responsible

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Why Are Four-Leaf Clovers So Hard To Find? (2024)
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